Sunday, October 22, 2017

Comments by rasselas.redux

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  • The survey of 1500 people revealed that the “condition” is widely misunderstood. The article warned that myths about “schizophrenia” are dangerous. The main findings were:

    • 50% of people think that schizophrenia means you have a ‘split’ personality
    • 26% believe that schizophrenia makes you violent
    • 23% incorrectly think that someone with schizophrenia needs to be monitored by
    professionals at all times
    • 45% of the general public thought the illness much less common than the one in 100
    people that have schizophrenia

    1500 people are not indicative of the “general public”. This is a poor study. Bad science. And was it replicated? I expect no. More bad science.

    I like this bit: “• 23% incorrectly think that someone with schizophrenia needs to be monitored by
    professionals at all times” –“. ie, one person they have in their minds. Not “everyone”.Someone. Someone perhaps such as “Nicholas Salvador AKA “Fat Nick” needs to be monitored at all times. So if the 23% have him in their minds, then they’d be right 100% of the time.

    Here’s another one. “• 45% of the general public thought the illness much less common than the one in 100
    people that have schizophrenia”. One in hundred people do not have schizophrenia. In the UK, if that was correct, then about half a million would have schizophrenia. Yet they don’t. About 120,000 do. The figure of 1 in 100 is a very loose estimate of lifetime rates of schizophrenia, not how many people are currently suffering under the diagnosis. So the 45% of people in the survey were actually correct.

    And so on and so forth.

  • Thanks for writing this. You have a challenging and provocative style.

    I hesitate to tell you why I object to your fundamental assertions; would be like being presented with a handful of roses, and then tearing them to pieces. Although, someone must have torn the flowers from their stems in the first place, so maybe actually engaging with your words wouldn’t be such a terrible thing to do?

  • When animals escape from captivity they hunt them down too. But when they have them cornered they tranquilise them, put them to sleep. Very carefully and conscientiously they transport them back to captivity. And there the animals awakens, and great care is taken to ensure that they return again to their natural state of captive boredom and hair-trigger agitation.

  • Yep. To free himself the Chief had to transform into the spirit and rebellion that the institution had killed. He had to become McMurphy. He had to take on his spirit. To do that he had to become a criminal forever on the run from authority. In other words, there is no final rebellion. It is endless. But without rebellion there is only self-negation, and a death-in-life.

  • Hi Fiachra

    That’s an interesting reply. I feel a need now to learn more about Dennis’ breakdown. I previously only knew that he had a penchant for a good drinking session. And that it mustn’t have been easy standing beside her as she slipped further and further into monarchic delusions, and honouring people like Jimmy Saville…

    Much of mental strife is situational and contextualised. I might be reading into this too much — again — but maybe Dennis’ conscience had to carry the burden for the both of them.

    And their kids weren’t exactly without their own shenanigans either…

  • “There is no evidence that the Las Vegas shooter was insane.”

    O my Lord. Look at the all the dead and the injured writhing. Look at what he chose to do. Look at it openeyed.

    What do almost all spree killers do at the end of their insane operas?

    You know it. They kill themselves. The final scene is always a tragedy. It is always *their* personal tragedy.

    What do we call this in modern parlance? We call it narcissism. The narcissistic suicide.

  • “He was clearly an evil man, or at least a man who did something truly evil. But evil is not crazy. If we define the attempt to take an innocent human being’s life as madness, then every murderer is mad. If not, we should recognize that it is a meaningless term that adds little to our understanding of the problem.”

    Evil is crazy. Evil is madness at its most extreme.

    Problems of categorisation; you want to use certain words for some people that have lost touch with reality, but exclude others on the basis that they are no longer in the realm of good taste.

    Of course it is insane to go on a spree killing. It is also evil. The two sometimes have a dance together. Evil and madness have a dance that almost everyone would prefer did not happen.

    It happens.

    Wishing it away… why do some people get so emotionally involved in that?

  • Scizophrenia means “split personality” and refers to an unestablished disease that does not entail having a split personality.


    Schizophrenic is generally used rhetorically as a way to demean someones’ apparent style of thinking as indeterminate, co-existing in two contrary states. Language has a life of its own and this second meaning would probably go on in use.

    Insisting on the first one as a medical term is embarrassingly stubborn. It is a wilful blockage of the gastrointestinal system. It is time that psychiatry loosened up and let go. Same too Rethink. Both are being laughably retentive.

    As for “psychosis spectrum disorder” or wotnot. O for God’s sake, please don’t. Three shitty words to replace one shitty word. And a broadening of stigma, not an eradication.

    And can someone please explain to me why the neoliberal put-down “sick role” is alluded to in the article? I thought sociology had put that nasty term to bed?

    have a read of this: Why sociologists abandoned the sick role concept:

    Otherwise, keep chipping away.

  • “Skepticism about forced treatment has deep roots in the US since One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest broke the taboo about psychiatric violence.”

    Did that novel (or film) really do that?

    McMurphy was an anti-authoritarian, a crook. He had himself admitted to the institution to avoid punishment for his crime (sex with an underage girl). The first death in the narrative is Billy Bibbit. Billy has an overbearing mother. Nurse Ratched’s group therapy talking sessions are depicted as mean-spirited and passive-aggressive. McMurphy arranges for Billy (a deeply neurotic virgin) to drink alcohol and have sex with one of the prostitutes he has smuggled in to the asylum. He is later shamed by Nurse Ratched, who threatens to tell his mother. He kills himself. There is no psychiatry involved. As McMurphy later discovers, pretty much everyone cognisant other than himself are voluntary patients. All the male characters are in some way emasculated by society, and they have given themselves willingly over to that process.

    There are lots of deeply misogynistic undertones to the text.

    McMurphy suffers two deaths. The first is the annihilation of his free (and criminal) spirit by psychiatry. This ultimately comes about because he punches Nurse Rached in the face.

    His second death is being suffocated by the Chief. A native American Indian that has no identity, is utterly dispossessed.

    To free himself he kills the criminal/misogynist, and escapes from the institution. The message there is again somewhat convoluted. Only a criminal on the run that has rejected all societal values other than a masculinised libertarian ideal can consider themselves to be truly free. Only a life lived in direct opposition to power and control is considered to be worth living. Any social conformity (and particularly conforming to the sharing of power with women) is considered to be actively self-emasculating and a fate worse than death.

    It’s not an antipsychiatry text. It’s more of a libertarian/misogynistic text. Although I concede that many people would have been first made aware of how ECT could be used as a weapon.

    The narrative is more about the emasculation of men through institutionalisation, the family, the law and so on. But particularly the emasculation of men by women, who in some way are depicted as the instruments of a man’s downfall. And beyond anything it lambasts psychotherapy more than it lambasts psychiatry. Depicting psychotherapy as feminising and a conduit of female violence upon men and masculinity.

    There are of course multiple readings. And it is a very enjoyable film, even if few people seem willing to discuss why they enjoyed it, what exactly it was that it stirred within them.

    It would have been fun to watch with Dr Ewen Cameron.

  • “Has the leadership of mental health reform organizations become a leadership class of professional complainers? Getting the grants and donations, stirring hopes and making promises, but really focused on fulfilling contracts and job descriptions and keeping the money and influence flowing? Is our leadership actually presenting a winnable strategy? Or are we setting ourselves up for more failures as a movement?”

    An emphatic and caps-on YES! to each question. Oops. Other than the third one.

  • “We can ONLY change ourselves, period.” Thanks for the CAPS-ON. You are so right about this. No-one in the history of humankind has ever been changed by an OTHER intentionally.

    As we all know, Knowledge is a constant.

    By awakening, we self-actualize. Today, science tells us that the essence of nature is learning.

    Joy is the nature of choice, and of us. Transformation is the driver of flow. The goal of atomic ionization is to plant the seeds of passion rather than stagnation.

    Consciousness consists of sonar energy of quantum energy. “Quantum” means a condensing of the Vedic. We exist as supercharged waveforms. Curiosity requires exploration.

    Have you found your vision quest? If you have never experienced this wellspring at the speed of light, it can be difficult to reflect. How should you navigate this unified universe?

    And yet… we are at a crossroads of growth and illusion.

    Reality has always been aglow with entities whose brains are transformed into stardust. Throughout history, humans have been interacting with the galaxy via electromagnetic resonance. Who are we? Where on the great journey will we be reborn?

    Our conversations with other pilgrims have led to an ennobling of pseudo-non-dual consciousness. Humankind has nothing to lose. We are in the midst of a higher maturing of choice that will let us access the multiverse itself.

  • “I don’t think this really constitutes equal time for antipsychiatry yet, still it’s something.”

    Antipsychiatry is pretty much an abolitionist movement. Neurodiversity is (radically) reformist. What they have in common is the rejection of a medical cure (otherwise known as acceptance), the rejection of forced treatment. Peculiarly, psychotherapy is considered unproblematic.

    The notion of cognitive liberty is problematic for both movements. Much of the thrust of both movements is facilitated by academics (the organising class) and people of so-called higher functioning status. Both movements by and large side-step those they count amongst their number who are unable or unwilling to add their voices. This problem is worsened by the fact that a very small number of repeated faces assume the role of mass representation (without an actual attempt at gaining mass approval).

    Personally, my way of thinking finds a better fit amongst the neurodiversity movement. They do not abandon psychiatric nouns. They do not consider the terms schizophrenic, autistic or depressive to be offensive, by and large.

    “There is no such thing as a “neurodiverse individual.” The correct term is “neurodivergent individual.”

    An individual can diverge, but an individual cannot be diverse.””

    What about people with co-called DID?

    If you enjoy language it’s a rich seam to mine. Although it takes a while to adapt.

  • Just to add that Marsha Linehan didn’t overcome her problems through embarking on a course of DBT. She emphasises instead that it was the search for DBT that led to her emancipation.

    In her narrative the ECT she endured played a very minor role.

    How can ECT play a minor role?

  • Yes, I am aware of those issues. And I am aware of the pitfalls of lumping people together.

    On the other hand, life depends on a convenient shorthand, and psychiatric nouns serve that purpose. All nouns do.

    You seem to be implying that being defamed is unacceptable (by being designated an objective psychiatric label), yet acceptable if it is *you* doing the defaming (by designating others as “assholes” based on your subjective judgement).

    Nouns are mis-used, discrimination is rife. Emotional dysregulation and suicidality are serious and significant problems that left to their own devices will cause untold grief and strife.

    Acceptance is perhaps the only significant bridge to cross. It seems to me that a number of “recovered” individuals downplay their problems or downplay some of the medical treatments that have helped their problems. I could be right. I could be wrong. Increasingly, it’s the pictiure that’s forming for me.

    Problem therein is the balance of risk, and the courage to take those risks.

    Perhaps everyone plays theatrics with their personal narratives, especially if it’s a hero narrative that has become the mainstay of their career or career aspirations.

  • Thanks for the rhetoric. Amusing.

    Marsha Linehan didn’t have an industrial accident. She had ECT. I can appreciate why some might configure ECT as some kind of blind-eyed industrial accident, but even still, that isn’t what I was getting at.

    What I was getting at is that Marsha Linehan — like a number of others — appears to play down the role of ECT in her personal transformation. To go from a person severely emotionally dysregulated and suicidal to someone conceptualising and then offering to the world a therapeutic approach to emotional dysregulation and suicidality is quite a leap. Of that there is no doubt.

    ECT is a risk. A very significant risk. But to remain as an emotionally dysregulated and suicidal person is also a risk. People should be free to choose the risks they wish to take, if, at the end of it, there is promise of a life-saving change.

    I’m not sure if she elected to have ECT or it was forced upon her, but in any case, it must have played an essential role in her “recovery”, because she didn’t, like your unfortunate uncle, become a nasty and hateful person because of it.

  • I thought the whole point of a personality disorder designation was that it was not a supposed illness “like any other”, but more about behavioural and characterological problems?

    Like all classifications (pretty much all nouns really) the nittygritty is arbitrary, and a little bit slippery, but there are remarkable similarities in problems from person to person that end up with the borderline label — mostly women although I’m given to understand it’s as prevalent in men as it is in women.

    Some people rejoice in the designation, others are reviled by it. But it can’t be hidden, surely? How can the intensities be hidden in the real world? I expect in the world of work for some people that is possible, given that masks are available and rewards and punishments tend to be absolute.

    I think if you can overcome the difficulties there should be no need to be concerned about a label given to previous behaviours and thinking styles. What does it matter to someone recovered?

    I’ve found the death of Matt Stevenson deeply troubling. It’s bought into focus some real concerns I have with notions of recovery, online personas, and the expectations of certain narrative styles, antipsychiatry dogma and closer to home, my partner’s struggles to obtain help in a system that is not inclined to provide it.

    I think by and large people do grow into new skins. But the role of ECT in that process is rarely mentioned. It came as a shock to me (‘scuse the pun) that Marsha Linehan had been repeatedly zapped. Why do people so often play down the role of ECT in their “recovery stories”?

    Not that I would advocate ECT. But then if it did bring about radical personality change, for the better, is it an entirely indefensible approach?

    There are lots of survivors of lightning strikes that have also undergone radical and positive personality change.

    I don’t know what to make of it all as things stand.

  • You don’t seem to like Marsha Linehan. I read the NYT article. In it she explains she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She was given a lot of ECT and psychiatric drugs. Eventually, she moved on, maintaining this secret part of her early life, until 2011.

    Point being that if she was “cured” it is misrepresentative to suggest she did it through “simple life skills and meditation” alone.

    ECT in particular can bring about radical personality change in people.

    She doesn’t mention abuse in the article, outside of the abuse she suffered in psychiatric institutions. Although I am not party to her intimate biography. In the article — which is brisk and scant on detail — she alludes to sibling rivalry in the family home as playing a key role in her emotional maelstrom.

    I don’t agree with you that Linehan ” is really exposing here, is people’s need for skills to manage their complex and busy lives, without which things can become unmanageable. Whatever that looks like, is almost always across the board falsely accused of evidence of “mental illness” for which, there is no evidence and is a such, rediculous.”. That’s not how it read to me. She seemed more upbeat about how she took her own experiences of emotional dysregulation and suicidality and developed an intensive therapy for people that priorly were written off as either untreatable, or, as with her, drugged and electrocuted until, by some brutal miracle, some personal insight became achievable.

  • “If that woman had spoken, maybe someone would have heard her and VALUED her words. Then, psychiatry’s curse on her would be broken . . . Now, why do I think you don’t want that?”

    I don’t know. Maybe you can tell me.

    There has long been a rich canon of survivor literature, dating back at least 200 years. If you were aware of this — which you don’t seem to be — then you’d maybe think about this differently.

  • You may equally caps-on that the RECOVERY movement is responsible for this man’s death. He wrote a lot about being “fully recovered”, a concept which is responsible for a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering.

    Acceptance is perhaps more powerful and realistic than hope. It’s certainly sensible to expect no storm to be the last, no matter how much one intellectualises one’s personal experiences, and life in general.

    The burden on some people to project a “fully recovered” persona is a significant one.

    Acceptance of madness is a whole different ball-game; but it does help with unburdening, especially when things get tough. Again. Always things will get tough again.

  • People will put you down. They will ridicule you. Tease you. Mock you. All sorts of hullabaloo.

    But who gives power to the pessimism?

    I was once told by a psychiatrist that I had a degenerative brain disease. And that I would have to take antipsychotics for the rest of my life.

    As it turns out, the psychiatrist had a diseased imagination and I haven’t popped an antipsychotic for 20 years.

    That said, some of the best unwritten books I’ve not read have had a remarkable influence on me.

  • I suppose I’m an empathic person, by and by.

    Just life experiences, reading and thinking. I think the empathic stuff was kicked off when a resettled German widow and her son were allocated a concrete postwar council house on the estate I grew up on. And coming to terms with the intensities that ensued. She was a bold woman, who spoke very little English. She was middle-class and very aloof.

    In many ways her Fall from grace was an eyeopener for me. Although it’s only really when you think back over childhood that you really get a good angle on what it was exactly you were learning.

    There were lots of rumours about her background. The usual (although obviously unusual) stuff. Her son was bullied in a way I had not experienced before. All the adults turned a blind eye.

    And so on and so forth.

    But I am an English madman. Kindalike John Clare if you replaced the poems with Stella Artois.

  • Sad news.

    Matt Stevenson wrote:

    “The message should be that serious mental distress, including psychotic and borderline states, is primarily caused by adverse psychosocial events, not primarily by faulty biogenetic factors, and that people can mostly or fully become free from these states with support and sufficient hope, that key thing I couldn’t feel at the end.”

    Hope. That “key thing” he “couldn’t feel at the end”.

    So hope is not enough. Support is not enough. What else is there?

    The promise of Hope is generally baseless to someone bereft of hope. Support has its limitations too. Especially if one has built a firewall around one’s deeper, darker vulnerabilities.

    I enjoyed his articles. Although I do recall pointing out that he was conceptualising madness as something to overcome, something shameful located in the past. Something that once was, but was no more.

    Standard ball-park definition of psychosis: losing touch with reality.

    The poor young man lost touch with reality. And there was nothing anyone could do about it.

    Respect to his family and friends.

  • My friend asked me, “Do you think her saying that so long ago is possibly still holding me back, Michael? I remember that awful sinking feeling of hearing her tell me it was only a grandiose delusion of my illness every time I’ve started to write my book, and it always seems to somehow make me quit trying to write it.”

    I replied, “She cursed you.”


    This is for me the finest blame-shame account for writer’s block I have yet encountered. And I’ve encountered some quite remarkable excuses.

    A psychiatrist does not have the power to prevent someone writing whatever it is they wish to write.

    The problem of any individual not writing boils down to three factors, almost always.

    Which are

    – they do not wish to write (but enjoy talking about the wish to write)

    – they cannot write (although have attempted multiple times)

    – they wish to write, and can write, but the writing is so dreadful that it is best they do not write

    Psychiatry did not curse this woman. She cursed herself.

  • They hear you. They are skilled in un-hearing. They listen and un-hear all the time.

    What marks you out as different is that they can’t dismiss you. To dismiss you, they require a pathology.

    In the absence of a pathology, they’ll go on un-hearing you, for as long as it takes. That might be your lifetime.

    That’s also how institutions that have become corrupted operate. They play the long game. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It almost never endures. People wise up. The institution must save face to survive. It owns up.

    I hope you witness that in your lifetime. If not, your tenacity will endure until the truth breaks out.

    People say psychiatry is on its last legs. What they rarely point out is the regenerative power. Psychiatry is well-equipped to lose its legs. It will lose its legs. And then it grows new ones.

    Banish antipsychotics. Banish these poisons. Let them be gone.

    But who is ready for the next onslaught, for the new legs readying to hit the ground running?

    The new technologies. The fusion of synapse and silicon.

    That’s another battle, for another Mr Whitaker.

  • I think the children who grew up through the transitional period, and those born postwar, that were particularly troubled. Given too that one big slice of germany carried on under the psychological duress of East Germany and East Berlin, with that wall of absolutes separating them. All those many families split, some on one side, some on the other, and a kind of national mourning for the continuation of Totalitarianism within a literally schizophrenic state.

    And all those ex-Nazi psychiatrists, those that remained, seamlessly transitioning into Stasi psychiatrists, perhaps the most politicised psychiatry in its intense history.

  • You’re welcome.

    It is obviously not simply the trauma of war that caused so much so-called schiziphrenia in Germany, above and beyond all the other involved nations, including those that opposed Hitler. It’s the trauma of defeat, the trauma of an extreme rightwing ideology taking hold, creating its pervasive and intoxicating false narratives, and for these falsities and delusions to come crashing down. The trauma of humiliation. The trauma of fascist delusions being smashed.The trauma of living a lie and then being compelled to face those lies. The trauma of having to face up to all those evils. An old departed friend of mine volunteered to stay in Germany and take part in the re-education programmes. He was under orders amongst other things to command any citizens with their heads down to look at the posters depicting the crimes of auschwitz and so on. There’s lots been written about it. It’s a very interesting and important part of history, especially what you have written about. But doesn’t get much discussed in English-speaking circles.

  • Ken Dodd, comedian savant:

    Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
    I thank the Lord I’ve been blessed
    With more than my share of happiness

    To me this world is a wonderful place
    And I’m the luckiest human in the whole human race
    I’ve got no silver and I’ve got no gold
    But I’ve got happiness in my soul

    Happiness to me is an ocean tide
    Or a sunset fading on a mountain side
    A big old heaven full of stars up above
    When I’m in the arms of the one I love

    Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
    I thank the Lord that I’ve been blessed
    With more than my share of happiness

    Happiness is a field of grain
    Turning its face to the falling rain
    I can see it in the sunshine, I breathe it in the air
    Happiness happiness everywhere

    A wise old man told me one time
    Happiness is a frame of mind
    When you go to measuring my success
    Don’t count my money count my happiness

    Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
    I thank the Lord I’ve been blessed
    With more than my share of happiness

    Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
    I thank the Lord I’ve been blessed
    With more than my share of happiness
    Source: click here

  • “The researcher, from the University of Oviedo, Spain, has a background in logical theory, and provides specific examples of how the ADHD diagnosis violates the requirements for logically sound argument. His main point is that the reasoning is circular. As an example: If a child exhibits the behaviors that are agreed to constitute ADHD, then the child can be said to “have” ADHD, and by circular reasoning, therefore, the ADHD “causes” those behaviors. Pérez-Álvarez calls out this type of reasoning as illogical rhetoric.”

    Or, to put it another way, if an academic researcher exhibits behaviours that are agreed to constitute Academic Research, then the academic researcher can be said to “have” [the quality of] academic research, and by “circular reasoning”, therefore, the Academic Research “causes” those behaviours. Pérez-Álvarez calls out this type of reasoning as illogical rhetoric.

    The problem here is the style of analysis, which is in itself circular.

    Almost all nouns can be processed under that style of analysis and the conclusion can then be reached that the noun is an example of illogical logic.

    Whereas again, it isn’t so much “illogical logic” — an illogical, rhetorical coinage — but a kind of “autistic” failure to approach language itself as very different to algebra.

    For me this is the first example of an academic attempt to codify a cultural meme. The one in which someone offers up a noun for ritual sacrifice, slaying it on the alter of “circular reasoning”.

    But I do go along with the general gist. In that ADHD is a construct, in much the same way that Academic Researcher is a construct. In both cases the noun performs its incantational magic, bringing into being that which it calls into being.

  • It may be a “sophisticated insult”, and there may be reasons why insults are not allowed, even sophisticated ones, but it is at least not a death-sentence, as some other conditions are interpreted as — even sophisticated death-sentences — given that BPD is something eminently recoverable from, particularly for the significant minority who can attest to childhood trauma.

    For many sufferers the pseudo-medical name-calling is the first time in their lives that someone with the power to help them has taken them seriously. They are used to being name-called — because their behaviour can be extremely challenging — so no wonder the hypersensitivity.

    A very vocal few despise the term. But then the majority that wecome the term have no real motivation to defend it as vociferously as others wish to rip it to shreds.

  • That I sounded pissed off in your acousto-mind is no wonder, given the variables.

    I’m not an expert on the “modern child-mind”. Or what they are feeling.

    I remember being at a party I wasn’t invited to and it wasn’t very pretty… and what got me was I’d tried to dissociate myself into a space in the living room, behind the door into the kitchen, and this bloke was settling down with the young women, three of them, they were getting their heads down. They all had sleeping bags and pillows. And then this much older fella. I asks him what’s his scene? And he’s telling me he’s the uncle and she’s the niece and I’d rather not be there, as it stood. Why don’t you come and join us?

    It wasn’t a pretty evening, all told.

    I don’t think that uncle knew much about children either. I suppose one come-back might be they didn’t know much about uncles like him.

    I think people are more open to being honest about how shit life often is, how shit it is often lived.

    The next bit is coming to terms and living with that shit.

    People with glasses of wine in their hands quietly offer suggestions…

  • I agree. All voice hearers are imagining, creating, diversifying.

    If I wish to, if I wish to give enough time and energy to it, I can make a mole on my inner thigh talk, take on an identity, a past, and an emotional life, all of its own.

    For some peculiar reason, some 21st C. adults have a hard time coming to terms with their imaginations.

  • Self-help groups will always be a minority pursuit. It’s just not what most people want to get involved with, however well-meaning.

    In fact pretty much all the main proponents of self-help groups do not attend self-help groups.

    The only truly meaningful purpose of self-help groups is to propel the career of a small minority of people that promote self-help groups, but do not feel the need to use them. Which is fair enough, all told.

  • “If these doctors possessed consciences, they would have called for an end to drugging children with antidepressants. ”

    What if the doctors did have consciences and even still prescribed so-called anti-depressants?

    And what if then the majority of children were okay?

    Because that is the reality, Mr Breggin.

    And I am not naive about “okay”. I know how politicised that term is.

    I would like to see Mr Breggin work with young UK children from Rochdale, from Moss Side, from Toxteth.

    What experience does Mr Breggin have of working with children from extremely non-middle class areas?

  • Ay up, Mr Breggin. I do hope you don’t find my uneducated language offensive. Or my intolerable self-confidence, too intolerable.

    You’re a nice bloke. You come across as a thoroughly nice bloke. Of course, so did Rolf Harris. And to many, so did Adolf Hitler. Just to say, I don’t trust “nice”.

    Anyway, your concluding pause for thought:

    “By starting children on antidepressants, we rob them of fulling their potential as human beings. They will never know who they really are or who they might have become.”

    How does someone go about “fulling their potential as human beings?”

    This must — according to my uneducated eye — be a typo.

    But did you really mean “fueling” or “fulfilling”?

    Probability suggests “fulfilling”.

    Thus your closing gambit should probably read:

    “”By starting children on antidepressants, we rob them of fulfilling their potential as human beings. They will never know who they really are or who they might have become.”

    I do not think you’ve thought this through adequately. I get where you are coming from but it is deeply flawed.

    To bring this back to the common theme in mental health discussions (ie. to my self): I was not treated with SSRIs or SNRIs as a child because thankfully my parents were uneducated and thick enough to be wise enough to distrust psychiatry. But had they been even a little bit more educated, no doubt I’d have been medicated from a very early age.

    Yet it has been a devastation. My mania and my psychoses and delusions have been a dreadful devastation. I have not fulfilled my potential as a human being. I will never know who I really am or who I might have become.

    I take solace in the fact that I have yet to encounter a single person who this does not hold true for either.

    God help me if ever I have the misfortune to meet someone that has fulfilled their potential as a human being or knows who they really are.

    I’ve met a few that lay claim to these lofty heights… but o my… what little shits they turn out to be when you get close up…

  • Just popping on my pedantic hat here but… BPD is not a description. It’s a diagnostic category. It’s a noun. An improper noun!

    Are we permitted to diagnose things for which there are no tests, numerous conflicting aeteologies, and broad variance of symptoms?

    Short answer: yes.

    Conventional medicine does it all the time.

    That is why I can tell people I have tinnitus and no-one blinks an eyelid. It’s similar to hearing voices, except the voice, as such, is mono-tonal, high-pitched, and continual, without pause. All that changes is its loudness. And the louder it is, the more it affects me, yet no-one else can hear it or test for it, or tell me where it’s coming from.

    The noun BPD is qualified by the descriptors. I agree it’s acceptable to embrace the descriptors, but disagree in that it’s a little clumsy to reject having a noun. Although I accept we need better nouns, those in current use have replaced other, even worse nouns. Like “hysterical”, “witch”, “femme fatale”.

    Schizophrenia too is a cock-up of a noun, but it replaced other nouns such as “demon possessed” and “heretical”.

    Not sure anyone has come up with substantially better nouns. Lots of defeatists though… “The nouns don’t matter!” and “Abandon all nouns!”…

    When really, all we need is a bit of imagination, a little bit of freedom to be creative…

    Of course, a person with BPD will be called a whole gamut of nouns, by professionals and non-professionals… mostly by non-professionals, if truth be told. Of the ;beep! variety. People that meet the descriptors of so-called BPD will be called by others throughout their lives every name under the sun. And, if truth be told, its not as if these terms would be improperly applied, in context. They’d beused for what they were intended for.

    Which really falls back into maybe this neurosis over psychiatric terms being a bit of a waste of time and energy. Given that the preferred (in real life terms) alternatives are always going to be way worse. They are way worse, certainly in polite company.

    Agreed with the thrust of the article though. And I have far more experience of people suffering with BPD than most professionals, due to having close relationships with a number of them. I’m over-qualified in this area. 😉

  • I agree with you. Poor nutrition is at the heart of a great deal of emotional distress. This includes people binging on sugar and its demonic cousins such as aspartame.

    People get touchy about this subject because typically they have child-like eating habits, and don’t want to fess up.

    They keep a firm grip on the lollipop.

  • “But in indigenous cultures, past and present, it is often through the experience of psychosis, and recovering from that experience, that constitutes the guidelines for becoming a shaman. ”

    Can you name one?

    What we in the West call shamans are what we in the west once called more often ‘witch doctors’.

    In Northern European indigineous cultures, the so-called shaman is chosen at birth. This is widely true also in African cultures.

    People who we in the west call schizophrenic in so-called shamanic cultures are generally considered as demon-possessed in some way or other, and the shaman will direct the magical cure, via one or other kind of violence. Which will often make western-style ‘interventions’ appear like a walk in the park.

    I think so long as the ‘alternative’ movement pushes all this romanticised mumbojumbo it will remain in the shadows.

    “I would describe shamans as spiritual rather than magical, although they may use some things that look to be “magic” in some instances to our Western eyes.”

    Yes. For instance across Africa in so-called shamanic cultures the so-called shaman advise men with HIV and AIDS to rape infants to effect an instant cure.

    “Shamans and how they are understood by their communities cannot be interpreted by western, colonial White European understanding.”

    Although, that’s precisely what you’ve been doing in your comment.

    Primitivism is not the way forward, by any stretch of the imagination. The clue as to why is in the word itself…

  • If calling Hitler a madman is a “nasty piece of sanism” then it follows that calling him evil is a nasty piece of moralism, if it’s circular reasoning at the heart of the problem.

    Hitler, so far as history knows, didn’t kill anyone. Just like Charlie Manson. His influence was such that he could sway others to killing. Like say Obama or Thatcher, Reagan or Stalin, Blair or Mao, Bush or Pol Pot.

    Of course, to compel others to kill requires quite complex conditions to be in place. But maybe not so complex as all that. Given that there is a killing instinct in every human being that is as god-given and natural as the love instinct.

    Love is worthless without hate. That’s something understood in the story of Jesus. His love was inexpressible unless he was crucified.

    Same too the mythos of Gandhi, he of the overcompensated passive aggression. Gandhi couldn’t express his love or use love for social change unless others — other than himself — were getting their heads kicked in, or worse. Did Gandhi love his martyrs, those that had their heads kicked in in order for Gandhi’s love to be felt?

    Gandhi understood that the reverse of the instinct to kill wasn’t always the instinct to love. Very often it’s the instinct to be killed.

    And all the maytrs that willingly walked into the flames or knowingly fell onto the sword understood this too.

    In the darkness of humanity — which is really the fullness of humanity — death, killing and hate are fundamental. To describe these aspects of humanity as madness is calling a rose a rose.

  • Psychotherapy is *a* treatment. It is not *the* treatment.

    And in any case drawing so close to another human being — especially during psychosis — only really ever amounts to this other resisting or succumbing in various ways themselves to psychosis.

    All human agency is performative. As our lives becomes ever-more theatricised, so too the performance will be graded in modernist terms, typically from 1-10. Henceforward, there will be a massive increase in so-called DID, ranging from the somewhat appalling (1-3) performances leaving a sickening or at least unsatisfactory impression (40something women mimicking gross apparitions of tiny bewildered children, for example) — as the watching eye becomes ever more prevalent, so too the urge to perform will grow.

    There is always– without exception — something sinister going on with psychotherapists. Given the right conditions that sinisterliness manifests.

  • What is a “safe space”? Who makes it safe? Who gets to decide what safe means?

    I’ve watched with interest the far right beg these questions but they remain unanswered.

    How does a space become safe? What violence is required to ensure safety?

  • Cocaine and alcohol is by far the worst combo that leads to heart attacks and sudden death. Mixing the two creates a third substance in the body called cocaethylene, which can build up over many years and cause sudden death at any point, potentially, even years after last use.

    Cocaethylene is massively more dangerous than either cocaine or alcohol on their own. I believe the risk of having a heart attack is 40x greater when cocaethylene is active in the body.

    Not making any apologies for other drugs but it’s a teeny bit blinkered to overlook the dangers of mixing cocaine and alcohol, especially when pointing the finger of blame over a celebrity Hollywood death.

    Also, call me old-fashioned. but I think it is more dignified to at least wait until a person has been buried or cremated or whatever before one starts to publicly play the armchair pathologist about what led to them becoming a corpse.

    My partner tells me that Carrie Fisher freely admitted to gulping back huge amounts of alcohol and insufflating huge amounts of cocaine during her life.

    This is not unusual for people with problems of mood that also have access to a bit of cash. And especially not unusual for someone from the hollywood set.

    To write a whole article without mention of cocaine, alcohol or cocaethylene is bizarre. Even if you think such speculations about fresh corpses are civilised.

    Happy New Year!

    (additonally, with respect, she appears somewhat medically obese in the photo. obesity is also a major factor in heart disease. it’s important to factor everything in, if you’re going to play the armchair pathologist. was her mother also on psychiatric drugs?)

  • Just one last point. Just as tribes are very selective about who can be and who can not be a shaman (generally never if you are a woman), so too are alternative mad movements selective in who they will and will not accept into their fold as an acceptable manisfestation of a mad person.

    And boy do I know this to be true….

    Yoiu become a shaman and remain a shaman because you are selected by others and, at times, deselected by others.

    We do that too in the west. We laud and celebrate very specific people who hold qualities we consider not too dissimilar to sanity, generally people that make great effort to mimic the ways and mores of their times.

    When the mad person or the shaman does not adhere to very narrow lines of being and behaviour, they are excluded, persecuted, demeaned, punished and sometimes killed.

  • Also just to add: the shaman as one distinct entity is a New Age western construct. As an interesting thought experiment, if you took a village from south america and merged it with a village in africa, that had to retain some semblance of their tribal treaditions, the shaman though appearing alike to western eyes, would be violently opposed by the tribespeople.

    I imagine because the shaman is the holder of traditioon as well as the holder of stories and meciicine.

    Which is why a tribesperson that challenges the shaman would be violently opposed, and indeed is, violently opposed.

    Indiigenous Australians — as far as I’m aware — had various cultural traditions that barely changed in structure for tens of thousands of years. I don’t believe it is possible to institute against innovation and reform and new ideas without instituting violence. Opposing the shamanic would surely mean to oppose tradition.

    Which is maybe what true madness is., a challenge to all that is held to be sacred and iimmutable. Or even just what is held to be acceptable or deferent.

  • I agree. I wrote long ago in an obscure place and in a much less structured way that dispatching people through the ovens one by one was a more palatable approach, than en masse.

    The shaman is an attractive alternative role for some people to adopt. Although in our cultures, people have been doing that anyway, alongside the history of schizophrenia, and that’s why we have mediums and churches and the New Age movement. And then if you put aside romanticists like Terence McKenna, and have a closer look at tribal societies, the shamans are inititiated way before they show any signs of what we come to call schizophrenia. And in fact, if you look even closer, the people with what we in the west call schizoprenia are often very harshly treated in tribal societies, such as being tied to trees, or purged from the village, precisely because the shaman can’t make head not tail of what’s happening to them. Because the mad person challenges the shaman’s conceit.

    The New Age romantic construct of the shaman is a nice idea, until you dig a little deeper.

    People that come to be diagnosed with schizophrrnia do not have a magical healing gift. They have madness. Or demon possession, as some prefer. And all the world over and throughout time, the mad person is rejected, tortured, or exiled.

    So the shaman role is a false hope, for the majority. Madness challenges everything. And tries the patience of everyone. Including the sham with his shakey stick and his peculiar genital mutilation rituals.

  • An important question never asked (I’ve not seen or heard it asked) of people that claim to have heard the voice of God, is what does God’s voice sound like?

    The usual reply is: you’ll know it when you hear it…

    which is out and out trickery and avoidance.

    It’s a serious question. What does God sound like? Does he have an accent. Is his voice deep or shrill? Does he sound like Brian Blessed or Charlton Heston?

    It’s not true though as the cliche goes that’s it is acceptable to hear the voice of God. It’s generally a social frightener in secular circles. Or worst, amongst the religious, enough to have you rounded on as an a blasphemer or apostate.

    I expect you probably mean well but I don’t think society defines ‘mental illness’ in such simplistic ways. There are just too man examples of people living crazy lives doing crazy things that don’t get singled out as ill. They might be called mad or eccentric but as a general rule of thumb that is because they are directing their crazy energies into things which is generally taken as legitimately mad (whether that is because it is entertaining, or, often these days, the act of madness is considered inspirational in some peculiar way).

  • Hi Fiachra. You can’t possibly belittle my experience because you don’t know what it entailed. I was psychotic for about 18 months. By psychotic I mean I was beset by unremitting hallucinations, mostly of a tactile nature. By unremitting I mean that they were ongoing from the moment I awoke to the moment I fell asleep.

    You’ll have to help me about a bit by what you mean by “disturbed”. Are you using this word as an adjective or a noun?

    In either case, generally speaking, the effect of unremitting psychosis (for people such as I at the time, making my first plod around the block of unfamiliar turf) is to be somewhat emotionally disturbed (or freaked out) by the experience, as well as disturbed by it (eg to have the rug pulled from under my feet).

    I struggled to hold true to my (at the time) atheistic and existential underpinnings under the onsluaght of what at the time felt increasingly like some kind of supernatural curse, and took some contradictory comfort in the Book of Job and Maupasaant’s The Horla, both of which took on new significance during the experience.

    I am in no doubt now that this was a psychosis. After the fact numerous people of various biases have attempted to remould the narrative I have shared about it to their own agenda, and none of them have made any sensible meaning, other than psychiatrists. When psychiatrists first put it to me that I had suffered a psychosis it was only really my sense of pride, my ego, that caused me to resist that interpretation. Because in all honesty it was something I had feared throughout it, even though, as it endured, my grasp on my own madness increasingly failed, until in the closing months, I was ‘coping’ in very strange and self-defeating ways.

  • Just to add, with respect, that the promise of heaven and some kind of liberation from the body as a spirit, is undoubtedly helpful and hopeful to many people, but whether wittingly or not, these are dangerous ideas that play into the hands of psychopathic and genocidal social systems. They imbue a sense of fatality into peoples’ hearts. They fetishise victimisation and give up the power to fight and make the world a better place.

    Heaven is a deeply subversive and oppressive construct. It removes hope from the world and re-locates it outside of time.

    False hope is never positive. It’s always negativity wearing a disguise.

    Still… same as it ever was…

  • @ boans

    “I do find it strange though. The penalty for Conspiring to Stupefy to Commit an Indictable Offense (namely Kidnapping) is 30 years. Why would attempting to murder someone to conceal this be a problem? You get less in our legal system lol.

    And with police assistance to ensure that Doc doesn’t have any issues with the paperwork? We have a Doctor running around here at present openly declaring that she killed a patient (hastened her demise is how she put it). Psychiatrists etc are doing that also, sometimes by about 30 years lmao.

    And still nothing is done.”

    There’s a great book by Ben Kiernan called Blood and Soil, in which he gives an eyeopening summary of the various conditions that give rise to genocide and there is much insight to be gained about mad history.

    Nothing is done about the killing because the killing is the thing to be done. Nothing is done about the violence because the violence is the thing to be done.

    To normaliise any genocide one must first achieve the dehumanisation of the enemy.

    And to dehumanise the enemy one must create a bold and pervasive narrative about them acting as some kind of threat or subversion to the glorious status quo.

    Creating the conditions in which so much rationality can be tipped on its head is a prerequisite, and for the most part, it is essential to dehumanise one’s enemy (for us, the so-called enemies of reason).

    Treatment of any kind (i.e. the designation of one’s being as subversive, other, non-human or not fully human) is a violence against the self. Idealised as a necessary violence.

    The supreme conclusion of these processes are when the objects of hate internalise the hate. “I must subject myself willingly to this violence because I am the hated object”.

    It has helped me to come to terms with what happened by thinking about these social processes (which by all evidential accounts have run along the entire history of humankind, in other words, the hatred is embedded in us, as social animals) to achieve one minor yet quite liberating change in my noggin, which is to break that endless repetition of going over and over what happened to me, appealing at ever opportunity to be acknowledged, for someone, anyone, to say “yes, you were hurt very badly, and it was wrong.”

    I think that’s the role we play as survivors. We are the only people that actually know or are able to know that a violence has occurred, and that it was unreasonable, irrational, and genocidal. Even amongst survivors themselves it’s a rare bird that has a deep understanding of it.

    Best wishes.

  • Taking one of the article writer’s examples and looking at it from a more practical standpoint. Misplacing one’s keys. “You bloody idiot” says the bowlderised inner voice. “You silly billy.”

    Because one has been lapsadaisical (a wonderful word I’m sure I hae not misspelled but which is being shamed by the automatic spellchecker as erroneous)…

    As my dear other-half has been reminding me for some time: there is a place for everything, you nincompoop!

    Now, whenever I have finished using a key and am about to place it down where it doesn’t belong I hear her shaming voice in my head. “Put it on the keyhook, you nincompoop!” and I am grateful for the shaming, because I put it on the key hook, invariably, and no longer waste hours of my life hunting for the key.

    And when I have been slightly more abrasive than the situation generally permits, I suffer terrorising shame and guilt, for a little bit. Then shrug it off as an unwanted negativising inner injunction, and go on ahead in life making the same blunders, upsetting the fragile and the sensitive with too-much frankness and verbal honesty.

    A society without shaming and guilt-inducing inner thoughts would be an interesting one, without a doubt. It would probably be paradise for the psychopathic.

  • btw I look forward to your reasoning about when you think so-called antipsychotics are best used. They are unfit for human consumption. As the late Dr Lars Martensson asserted, they are “a crime against humanity.” I would think twice about giving them to a rabid dog. Strangely they are very popular amongst many people that take them regularly under the threat of one form of violence or other if they do not take them. These same people are in abundance these days, promoting them to others. It’s exactly the same as what zombies do on the telly and in the movies. Once bitten there is no looking back. And they have an insatiable hunger to share…

  • Any form of writing is work. Just that writing as a vocation is undervalued. Hence the scarcity of renumeration.

    The amateur textbox commentators are often to be found all over the internet, expending a great deal of blood sweat and tears, information, humour, basic human capital, voluntarily, with no financial reward.

    But do not be mistaken that such activities generally are generating capital in some way or other.

    Of course, such pursuits can become an addiction in themselves. I suppose the material reward then is egoic, or narcissistic. I’m not sure. All I know is an expert wouldn’t be willing to answer me below the line. There’s too little in it!

  • Nice article. Nice shades.

    “I am writing this under my real name. In this way I am asserting that one does not have to be scared or ashamed of speaking publicly about having been severely psychotic.”

    I suppose that’s a start. But it nonetheless demotes psychotic experience as something to be overcome, something that is located in the past, something which once was and is no more, and so is less shameful.

    I think a lot of people are being sucked in at the peripheries, and they are often able to scramble out. They were only ever gatecrashing the party but by bad luck and cultural corruption found themselves sucked in.

    Well done for dragging yourself away and back up the spout.

    But the inner vortex of madness has no way out. It is who you are and where you will remain. It is you. Your person. It isn’t something shameful that happened in the past. It is your being. Past, present and future.

    Now this notion that madness arises solely and only from trauma and abuse. There is not a single human being alive or having lived or not yet living that is not, has not, or will not be subjected to some form of trauma and abuse. Not one person.

    So if we are going to say that madness arises from trauma and abuse then we must be honest and put all the cards on the table and admit also that sanity arises from trauma and abuse.

    Then apply Occam’s razor and we are left with all adult humans come to be who they are as a result of trauma and abuse.

    The problem we are left with is the riddle of the ages: why are some mad and some others not mad? And if everyone is emerging at some point from trauma and abuse, exactly what do we mean by recovery?

  • I was administered a medication from a small bottle. It was a pink and treacly liquid. I remember the day the GP suggested it and the day he said to discontinue it. I was told it was for bed-wetting but the bed-wetting continued regardless. Every single night before bed. One sometimes two small plastic spoonfuls. Can’t pin down the ages but it went on I believe for a number of years during pre-adolescence. A pleasant tang on the tongue but it was quickly down the hatch as it soon turned bitter.

    What was it? There are big gaps in my medical records. Haven’t a clue. There are conspiracy theorists in the UK that claim there were covert experiments going on throughout the 50s, 60s, 70s on children (particularly working class children), as part of this country’s contributions to the MKULTRA programme. Which remain to this day largely obfuscated, buried, ignored.

    It doesn’t seem plausible or possible, which is why I don’t dismiss it outright.

    Covert drug experiments (and in recent decades, overt drug experiments) have been a feature of the status quo for so long, it would now be more peculiar for it not to happen.

    Life is so absurd, so often shrouded in multiple layers of deception and bullshit, that to point to the Truth is a seditious act — or an opportunity to accuse someone of paranoia.

    Maybe I was being treated as a child with schizophrenia. It did happen back then. Just not so often and not so openly as now.

    My apologies to David Healy for the self-indulgence. The road to medicated wellness is truly paved in absurdity.

  • @ Sandra Steingard, MD

    Thanks for this article. I liked how you pinned the term “anosognosia” on a psychologist. I think in anyone’s hands it’s a powerful weapon. Although in a peculiar way it snugly slots into both sides of the argument, in that sometimes it is correct for a psychiatrist to make this accusation, and equally sometimes it is correct for a mad person to make this accusation (often to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional).

    Given that madness is perceived in both directions.

  • Unusual experiences? Evolved responses? Probably the latter.

    It seems animals all have mechanisms that reduce the suffering of becoming prey, or dying, and the human is no exception.

    Thanks for the Fight Club clip, an interesting meditation on narcissism and the life-affirming beauty of violence and death.

    You already are “someone”.Even if someone is point9ing a gun at your head and considers you to be no-one, because they are holding the gun and are thrilled by the seeming power of life and death. We are all gods now, say the unwise. Only the person with the gun can assert that.

    Narcissism rarely leaves the home without some help and support from nihilism.

    But I get what you are getting across, maybe. Extreme experiences bring us closer to Life, if we choose. Which is kind of an invitation for sadists to give you a kicking.

    Diogenes of Sinope lacked hope too.

  • I’m not sure what your point is. That’s a line from Hamlet. Spoken by Hamlet to Horatio after both have encountered the ghost of Hamlet’s dead father.

    That both Hamlet and Horatio witnessed the “wondrous strange” adds another layer of ambiguity. It’s a big loose thread in the narrative. It’s interesting how people these days take those words as some kind of official Mr Shakespeare endoresement of ghosts and ghoulies. Probably in a few hundred years time some people will be quoting JK Rowling’s characters in similar ways.

  • “No idea what you mean love”

    Extremist unhappiness (and I use that word considerately, because what we get to call severe depression is a form of fanaticism) is absolute in its filtering.

    To tackle one extremism with another form of extremism can be made to appear like a redemption, and in many ways it is, but you are left with a reconfigured extremism and I don’t think this has been enabling honesty and hope. It’s been the method adopted pretty much universally and where it seems to be taking us is to a point of redundancy. Where the problem of being human is solved by not being human. Or at the harsher end, there being no humans at all.

    Nietzsche tackled the problems of evangelism for obscure constructs like hope and heaven. Such fanaticism does seem to bring about collective mindsets that think the only way forward is to go blindly, at ever faster rates. Away from the body and the filth of nature. Again.

    Nietzsche pointed out that the many preachers of love actually hated humanity. They hated their flesh. Their bowels and wotnot. So they make fanciful constructs about the spirit, which is clean and pure and disembodied. The body being the source of impurity and filth. Again.

    I was suggesting that when the fanaticism kicks in, it’s helpful to remind oneself of the endless repetition. Which is futile. Again.

  • “Depression is a feeling of being totally alone,”

    Is it?

    I don’t know because I just deal on a basic level.

    Depression is a feeling of being totally alone.


    You must always add again to your suffering.

    “I am so sad and so desperate and this is so now to me.” Again.

    Add again.

    “I am so banal. I am so insecure. I am so unsure.” Again. Add again.

  • I forgot to add this again. Why do I keep forgetting to add things?

    The best and most rewarding bit in the theatrics is when psychiatry backs away from you. They generally won’t back away from you until convinced they have broken your spine. And it isn’t the broken spine that makes them back away. It’s when you can actually look them in the eye and mimic their dispassion and tell them they have broken your spine.

    That’s the very point they back away.

    It is because now they are repulsed by you. The disfigured person before them. It mustn’t happen often but every psychiatrist at least once in their career experiences this unbearable collision between the monster they have made and the unmentionable monster inside of them.

    That is when and why they back away.

  • I think psychiatry reflects the bullshit of whatever culture they are operating in, with added LED mood lighting. They would be redundant as a discipline if people wanted honesty, and poetic probing, and expert-analysis.

    What is expert-analysis of a person and their life and their mind? I agree with the experts that no-one is sure. And that the need is sometimes so intense, so necessary, that any old hat floating down the river will do for a true fit,for most of the people, most of the time.

    I don’t mind when people including psychiatrists don’t listen to me because I’m not much motivated to listen to them either. So maybe try not to take the culture too seriously?

    And often I would rather not listen to myself which is why I went to Budapest in 1996 and invented loud music.

  • It gets a bit long in the tooth. What happens to you or me or Captain Spock on drugs is what happens to you or me or Captain Spock on drugs. We don’t become instant drug-induced experts on the drug. And we don’t become sudden overnight insight-sensations about what the drugs do to other people. Almost all subjective drug experiences are best not mentioned in polite conversation unless — UNLESS! — you have a very rare gift for drug discourse. Which most don’t.

    So stick to the science in which your self-proclaimed “expertise” disappears, as rightly it should.

    Otherwise I have some sympathy for the sentiment.

  • Just to furtively add here — as I just had this overwhelming realisation that I may be perceived as making negative and hopeless comments — that I don’t have any problem letting the OBE and NDE people have their hug-groups and their bookclubs and their after-you, no-no after you really really after you, no no no after you I insist after you.

    Hope is dead. As I romanticise Norwegian culture I have a terrible habit of assuming that, just as I assume all sensible Irish people are brimful of Beckett, all sensible Norwegians are full of Hamsun and his unmentionable literary love-child.

    It’s silly really to be hopeful. You will die and it’s a messy business from which you will not come back.

    An actual “mature soul” doesn’t invent fairy stories to cope with all the bad news. They confront it face on and laugh their chops off.

  • Nobody ever died and came back to talk about it. Some people make daft claims. Hey man, I died and came back. Who said you died? Well, a team of experts decided that there was a point when a person is officially dead, and I came back from that point.

    Then maybe the experts need to revise the point they have decided a person is dead, because clearly, with all the NDE fanatics and the OBE evangelists, they have made some fundamental errors in their calculations.

    It’s about the most deluded statement a person can make. “I came back from death.” No you didn’t. No-one does. Death is a one-way ticket. In every instance a person claims to have died and come back, they didn’t die and went no-where, despite the excitedness and the self-delusion.

    Most rational people grasp this.

  • People seem to be accusing one another a lot these days of black and white thinking. When really they have a firm belief and wish to state that belief in no uncertain terms. I state that as a hasty prologue really in anticipation of people doing the italian nail-flick of their front teeth at me, in prose…


    My experiences of madness, which are many, are a lot more nuanced than ‘lacked insight’ versus ‘did not lack insight’.

    You might argue as I’ve seen many argue that anosognosia is a politically motivated act of oppression. But it can also be argued that it is an actual act of psychiatric kindness in that it attempts to make real what for many people is decided as an act of deliberate fraud.

    Even mad people often accuse other mad people of having more insight than they actually have. It’s the violence that is rarely addressed and to be honest, while I have a lot of time for psychologists (even though it would seem that they have very little time for me) I think they are also prone to attributing far more insightfuless to people than is actually available in the moment. Often because they have some kind of burning intellectual need to be right when all the evidence points to them being wrong.

    There are many many examples from my own life when I have fallen foul to more severe bouts of madness and not been insightful as much as I would prefer. If I was able to be as insightful as I prefer then I would not be suffering ongoing difficulties. Particularly relational difficulties. Even at times difficulties in the text box which are often attributed as deliberate instances of this, that and the other, as a way of harsh judgement, as opposed to what is really going on — I’m losing or have lost insight.

    But moreso one of my methods of coping is to compartmentalise my madder periods, and give them clear-cut beginnings that in all truth are not particularly honest. If I don’t do this my self-esteem takes a worse hit.

    Anosognosia may not be an actual disease entity but having a fancy psychiatric word for something that really does happen, and which people commonly refuse to accept as happening and being real, is actually a very helpful and humane phenomena to be able to appeal to, to try and understand, for people to be told is real and for it to be acknowledged.

    Of course, like any concept (like say the concept of “the quantum”, or the concept of “natural”, or the concept of “freedom”, or the concept of “success”, of the conceot of “recovery”and so on) it’s prone to be abused. And is sometimes abused but not as often as people seem to imply.

    We can have a laugh and a giggle about the logical inconsistencies but below the giggles and the back-pats is the harsh reality of some people’s struggles that involve actual lapses into anosognosia.

    I get the impression sometimes that people think that if they wish away all the psychiatric language they will also wish away the madness and somehow all will be sane with the world again.

  • Good point about compelling psychiatrists to have a dabble in antipsychotics if they should be so bold as to recommend or compel others to take them. I first made this point in 1998 to a psychiatrist although at the time I lost the argument as I had already willingly popped them like smarties as I was desperate to shut my mind down. The fact it also shut my genitalia down (literally shrinking them to two little peanuts with a hazelnut on top) was of little consequence either. It’s only in retrospect that I understand why I gave myself over to all that.

    It was only when I was depot injected once a month that I became acquainted with the real torture. I think what made it worse was this was court-ordered and went on for 11 months.

    Nearly 20 years later and I still have problems with akathisia, a word I believe I continue to misspell. And yet haven’t taken antipsychotics for over about 15 years.

    It was about 4-5 years after getting off the antipsychotics that I was able to read a novel again. Priorly I was reading (and absorbing) 4-5 novels a week at my peak. That first post-antipsychotic novel took a week to read and while the act itself was something of a personal triumph, the lack of emotional or intellectual connection came as quite a disappointment.

    Once you’ve been ruined by antipsychotics you don’t really get it back. You might be fortunate like I was in getting your genitals back but the intellectual verve once lost, remains lost.

    It was probably because I was ahead of the game that even now, not having the fullness of my intellect available, I can still pass off as clever-enough in most circles. But it’s a sad lament, even still.

  • It’s true that most clinical psychologists duck and dive as much as possible from prescribing drugs to their analysands but in the UK at least there is also a general reluctance in the profession to work with the “lost causes”, the people with the classic major psychiatric illnesses, who, ironically, if they do get to have a sit down and a chat, are more likely to be given the opportunity if they have already been ‘stabilised’ on psychiatric drugs. Prescribed by someone else of course.

    As someone of an existential bent I base near enough all my reality assessments on subjective experience and intution, like any self-respecting existential psychologist. Who are,by the way, as common around these parts as the woolly mammoth.

    Another observation worth gently stroking until it purrs is this: psychology as a profession is thin-skinned. It doesn’t take kindly to criticism. I think this has to be at least in part because it has been somewhat tarnished by the modern bullshit called “positive thinking”.

    Also, some of the most fundamental psychology studies are actually studies in abuse, and as such, psychology stands on the shoulders of abusers. Never forget that Jung was the pioneer of breaking sexual boundaries with female clients…